Breeders’ Cup Saturday 2019 Has Arrived
Saturday Offers Nine Amazing World Championship Races
By Margaret Ransom
With the second Future Stars Friday successfully in the books, the early Kentucky Derby and Oaks favorites established (Storm The Court and British Idiom, respectively, in case we all haven’t been paying attention), all eyes now turn toward the nine Saturday main event races. This year the annual two-day world championships are being held for a 10th time – a record – at beautiful Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California, and the day’s weather could not be more perfect.
Each race is significant to each division in that it is key in crowning each one’s Eclipse Award winner as the top performer, so a lot more than just winning the race is on the line for all the runners.
Speedy Ladies Kick Off Championship Races
The Saturday Breeders’ Cup Championship race festivities get underway with the day’s 4th race, the Filly and Mare Sprint. First run in 2007 as a filler for fillies and mares who just didn’t want to go the nine furlongs of the Distaff, the Filly and Mare Sprint has proved popular with some good horses over the 12 previous runnings, including champions and/or millionaires and grade 1 winners Maryfield, Ventura, Informed Decision, Groupie Doll and Shamrock Rose a year ago.
This year a field of nine will go postward and led to the gate by the 2-1 favored grade 1 winner Covfefe. Much has been said about the inside post a the seven-furlong distance, but thismay be the case of the best horse winning the race regardless. The LNJ Foxwoods-owned Test Stakes (GI) winner has won her only two starts at the distance and four of her last five, so she’s a solid favorite. Brad Cox Jr. trains the daughter of Into Mischief and Shaun Bridgmohan will be back aboard.
Gallant Bloom Stakes (GI) winner Come Dancing is the 5-2 second choice and will break from the four hole. Carlos Martin trains the speedy Malibu Moon filly, who has won two of four starts at the distance and carries a two-race win streak into this race. Javier Castellano rides for Blue Devil Racing Stable.
The field for the Filly and Mare Sprint, with riders and odds, is:
1. Covfefe, Shaun Bridgmohan, 2-1
2. Danuska’s My Girl, Geovanni Franco, 20-1
3. Heavenhasmynikki, Ricardo Santana Jr., 20-1
4. Come Dancing, Javier Castellano, 5-2
5. Lady Ninja, Drayden Van Dyke, 10-1
6. Bellafina, Flavien Prat, 6-1
7. Selcourt, Luis Saez, 10-1
8. Dawn the Destroyer, 12-1
9. Spiced Perfection, 4-1
Turf Sprinters Speed Five Furlongs
The Turf Sprint, which was inaugurated in 2008 to attract turf horses who weren’t marathon grass performers or even milers, has established itself as one of the more popular races for horsemen and fans because of its unique nature. Some years it’s contested at five furlongs, others at 5 ½ and normally at Santa it’s 6 ½ down the hill, but this year without any races being contested on the downhill turf course, it will be offered at five furlongs.
Stormy Liberal won the last two runnings of this race at Del Mar and Churchill Downs and is back for a third try without a win since that big score in Louisville a year ago. Though he has no victories, that’s not to say the son of Stormy Atlantic hasn’t put in some good performances, including two seconds and three thirds in stakes and an allowance races. John Velazquez will ride the gelding for the first-time trainer Pete Miller.
Eddie Haskell is the favorite for owners Phillip J. Wood and James Hailey. The California-bred son of Square Eddie is consistent, having won seven of his last 10 races and comes into this race off of a pair of seconds in graded events at this distance. Trainer Mark Glatt has yet to win a Breeders’ Cup race and too boost his chances retains the services of Joel Rosario again and the pair, who look to get a good stalking trip, will break from post position 10.
The field for the Turf Sprint, with riders and odds, is:
1. Totally Boss, Jose Ortiz, 5-1
2. Pure Sensation, Paco Lopez, 5-1
3. Imprimis, Frankie Dettori, 8-1
4. Shekky Shebaz, Irad Ortiz Jr., 12-1
5. Stubbins, Flavien Prat, 12-1
6. Stormy Liberal, John Velazquez, 8-1
7. Leinster, Tyler Gaffalione, 8-1
8. Legends of War, Rafael Bejarano, 20-1
9. Final Frontier, Luis Saez, 6-1
10. Eddie Haskell, Joel Rosario, 9-2
11. Om, Manny Franco, 15-1
12. Belvoir Bay, Javier Castellano, 12-1
Dirt Mile All About Omaha Beach
This year the Dirt Mile is the recipient of extra star power thanks to the presence of Fox Hill Farms’ Omaha Beach. The War Front colt, as we all know, was the scratched early Kentucky Derby favorite who underwent throat surgery and whose comeback was peppered with stops and starts all year due to varying reasons. Once he was ready, his connections ran him in a sprint, which surprised a lot of people, as he beat a very talented sprinter in the process. After some debate on which Breeders’ Cup race the colt would run in, his connections landed on the Dirt Mile citing the fact that he’s probably a better router yet not fit enough with just a single race under his belt in more than seven months.
Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella has expertly managed his training for this race and fellow HOFer Mike Smith will be aboard. He won’t be much of a price, but with a stallion career at Spendthrift Farm looming as early as next year, the value may just be in watching him run.
If anyone is going to orchestrate an upset, it could be WinStar Farm and China Horse Club’s Improbable, who was the beaten favorite in the Derby, Preakness and Pennsylvania Derby. He’s always been a good horse, but he’s arguably never looked better than he has in the past few weeks. He’s training with tremendous energy and cutting back in distance, which should only help him. Bob Baffert trains and Rafael Bejarano will ride.
The first Korean-based horse – Blue Chipper – will start after winning a grade 1 at Seoul in September. He’s been training at Santa Anita for a while and has seemed to enjoy his time here. Flavien Prat will ride.
The field for the Dirt Mile, with riders and odds, is:
1. Giant Expectations, Jose Ortiz, 12-1
2. Improbable, Rafael Bejarano, 3-1
3. Spun to Run, Irad Ortiz, 6-1
4. Mr. Money, Gabriel Saez, 6-1
5. Omaha Beach, Mike Smith, 8-5
6. Ambassadorial, Jamie Spencer, 30-1
7. Coal Front, Javier Castellano, 6-1
8. Blue Chipper, Flavien Prat, 20-1
9. Diamond Oops, Julien Leparoux, 15-1
10. Snapper Sinclair, Ricardo Santana Jr., 30-1
Filly And Mare Turf A Decidedly International Affair
Since joining the Breeders’ Cup family in 1999, the Filly and Mare Turf has always showcased the best from around the world. Champion Soaring Softly was victorious in the inaugural running and has been followed into the record books by Banks Hill, Starine, Ouija Board (twice!), Intercontinental, Forever Together, Midday and Sistercharlie a year ago.
Back to defend her title, Sistercharlie will race without the benefit of her rabbit as stablemate Theis was scratched by the vet panel due to unsoundness earlier in the week. The daughter of Myboycharlie hasn’t lost a race in more than a year and a half and looms a strong candidate to join Ouija Board as the only two repeat winners. John Velazquez rides for the race’s leading trainer (four wins) Chad Brown.
Billesdon Brook, the winner of the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes (GI) at Newmarket has won three of her last four, including one on more firm turf, which she’ll get here in this race. She’s won three of her last four for trainer Richard Hannon and has drawn a good post (four) for her pace-tracking running style. Sean Levey rides.
The field for the Filly and Mare Turf, with riders and odds, is:
1. Iridessa, Wayne Lordan, 8-1
2. Sistercharlie. John Velazquez, 8-5)
3. Fleeting, SCR
4. Billesdon Brook, Sean Levey, 10-1
5. Mirth, Mike Smith, 20-1
6. Thais, SCR
7. Vasilika, Flavien Prat, 8-1
8. Castle Lady, Michael Barzalona, 15-1
9. Villa Marina, Olivier Peslier, 8-1
10. Mrs. Sippy, Joel Rosario, 8-1
11. Just Wonderful, William Buick, 20-1
12. Fanny Logan, Frankie Dettori, 15-1
Sprint Draws Speedsters From Both Coasts, Around The World
The Sprint may be the most competitive race on the card with bona fide speedsters Imperial Hint, Shancelot and Mitole gunning right for the gate, leaving the talented types like Firenze Fire, Engage and Whitmore to pick up the pieces should the speed burn out.
Mitole is a grade 1 winner at a mile and seven furlongs, but has never been off the board in six tries at this distance. He has speed, but can stalk, and has never looked better training for this race. Regular rider Ricardo Santana Jr. rides for owners Bill and Corrine Heiligbrodt and trainer Steven Asmussen.
Shancelot is a brown bullet wrapped in a tiny package and comes into this race off two losses, but is certainly fit. The scratch of Imperial Hint only improves his chances, as the only horse to go with him, Matara Sky, may not be as fast as he is in the early going.
The field for the Sprint, with riders and odds, is:
1. Catalina Cruiser, Joel Rosario, 4-1
2. Hog Creek Hustle, Mike Smith, 20-1
3. Firenze Fire, Irad Ortiz, 12-1
4. Mitole, Ricardo Santana Jr, 9-5
5. Engage, John Velazquez, 15-1
6. Shancelot, Jose Ortiz, 4-1
7. Whitmore, Flavien Prat, 15-1
8. Landeskog, SCR
9. Imperial Hint, SCR
10. Matera Sky, Yutaka Take, 30-1
Mile Once Again Draws Top Talent
To say legends have won the Breeders’ Cup Mile is an understatement. Names like Miesque, Goldikova, Royal Heroine and Royal Academy pepper the list of previous winners from around the world. This year a full field will attempt to add their names to the storied winners list, including Prix du Moulin de Longchamp (GIT) winner Circus Maximus. The 3-year-old Flaxman/Coolmore-owned son of Galileo, who is trained by Aidan O’Brien, is a stone-cold miler with three wins from six starts, with a second and third, and has all year been one of Europe’s leading performers at the distance. Ryan Moore rides and if they stay traffic-free from what is likely their preferred spot off the pace, they will be tough to beat.
The local favorite is Uni who – surprise – hails from the powerful Chad Brown stable. The 5-year-old More Than Ready mare has had a tremendous career, only finishing worse than third in two of her 17 career starts (nine wins) and has won six of seven at the distance. Joel Rosario will be back aboard.
Got Stormy is another American-based female facing the boys off a runner-up finish to El Tormenta in the Woodbine Mile. El Tormenta runs here too, as does third-place finisher Lucullen.
The field for the Mile, with riders and odds, is:
1. Suedois, SCR
2. Lucullan, Luis Saez, 12-1
3. Space Traveller, Daniel Tudhope, 12-1
4. Trais Fluors, W Lee, 20-1
5. True Valour, Drayden Van Dyke, 20-1
6. Got Stormy, Tyler Gaffalione, 7-2
7. Bolo, Julien Leparoux, 30-1
8. El Tormenta, Eurico DaSilva, 12-1
9. Circus Maximus, Ryan Moore, 3-1
10. Without Parole, Irad Ortiz Jr., 20-1
11. Uni, Joel Rosario, 7-2
12. Lord Glitters, Jamie Spencer, 12-1
13. Hey Gaman, Frankie Dettori, 12-1
14. Bowies Hero, Flavien Prat, 12-1
Midnight Bisou Leads Distaff, Not Kissing Racing Career Goodbye Just Yet
The Distaff is another whose previous winners reads like a legends of horse racing book, with names like Personal Ensign, Lady’s Secret, Bayakoa, Life’s Magic, Paseana, Inside Information, Spain, Ashado, Zenyatta, Royal Delta, Beholder and Monomoy Girl a year ago. This year 11 will race the 1 1/8 miles searching for a world championships win.
Midnight Bisou hasn’t lost a race in seven starts this year and her connections don’t plan on letting her do so now. The Bloom Racing and Madakat Stables-owned Midnight Lute filly has been training exceptionally well since shipping into Santa Anita early and if she’s ready, regardless of who lines up next to her, it’s her race to lose. She was set to be sold next week in the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky sale, but her owners, Bloom Racing, called a a last minute audible and she will race next year. Mike Smith will be back in the irons after getting a leg up from Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen.
If the real Paradise Woods — the one who wins grade 1 races over this track—she will give the favorite a run for her money. Now trained by John Shirreffs, she has been a project and her training regimen shows it. She frequently goes to the quiet training track and stands as long as she likes, sometimes she wears a hood and sometimes she doesn’t. But she has been working holes in the wind for owner HS Stable (Herman Sakrkowsky) and Pam and Marty Wygod.
Blue Prize was impressive qualifying for her second distaff with a win in the Spinster Stakes at Keeneland and Street Band, who gave her jockey Sophie Doyle an initial grade 1 win, will also be in the gate.
The field for the Distaff, with riders and odds, is:
1. Paradise Woods, Abel Cedillo, 5-1
2. Ollie’s Candy, Joel Rosario, 15-1
3. Street Band, Sophie Doyle, 10-1
4. Midnight Bisou, Mike Smith, 9-5
5. Dunbar Road, Jose Ortiz, 6-1
6. Wow Cat, Irad Ortiz Jr., 5-1
7. Secret Spice, John Velazquez, 10-1
8. La Force, Drayden Van Dyke, 30-1
9. Serengeti Empress, Flavien Prat, 12-1
10. Mo See Cal, Paco Lopez, 30-1
11. Blue Prize, Joe Bravo, 6-1
Bricks And Mortar Faces Serious Test in Turf
The Turf this year features an outstanding group, led by the Chad Brown-trained Arlington Million winner (and three other grade 1s this year) Bricks and Mortar. The son of Giant’s Causeway has done everything right his entire career and figures strongly to pull in the win here. Regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr. will be back aboard.
Coolmore’s Epsom Derby hero Anthony Van Dyck hasn’t won in a few starts, but with one exception he’s been pretty consistent and likes this distance, having two wins from four starts at 1 ½ miles. It’s hard to know if he’ll like the American firm turf, but it’s probably unadvised to question his champion trainer Aidan O’Brien. Ryan Moore rides.
Globetrotting talent Old Persian makes his North American debut carrying a record of five wins from eight starts at this distance. Hard to overlook this Charlie Appleby-trained son of Dubawi.
The field for the Turf, with riders and odds, is:
1. Zulu Alpha, Jose Ortiz, 20-1
2. Acclimate, Martin Garcia, 20-1
3. United, Flavien Prat, 20-1
4. Mount Everest, Wayne Lordan, 15-1
5. Anthony Van Dyck, Ryan Moore, 3-1
6. Channel Cat, Luis Saez, 15-1
7. Alounak, Clement Lecouve, 20-1
8. Bandua, Tyler Gaffalione, 20-1
9. Bricks and Mortar, Irad Ortiz Jr., 9-5
10. Old Persian, William Buick, 4-1
11. Arklow, Javier Castellano, 12-1
12. Channel Maker, John Velazquez, 10-1
Competitive Classic Caps Banner Day
The Classic is always the Breeders’ Cup’s “piece de resistance”, the last and most important race of the two-day event. Every year the best handicap horses line up for the 1 ¼-mile main event looking to snatch a Horse of the Year title and several horses over the years have done it. This year 11 will try to add their names to a roster that includes standouts like Wild Again, Ferdinand, Alysheba, Sunday Silence, Unbridled, A.P. Indy, Cigar, Tiznow (twice!), Curlin, Zenyatta and American Pharoah.
Watson, Weitman and Pegram’s Whitney winner McKinzie is the early favorite off his loss to longshot Mongolian Groom in the Awesome Again Stakes a month ago and will carry a new rider in Joel Rosario amid much drama surrounding trainer Bob Baffert’s criticism of Mike Smith’s ride in the race. Hoping to shake it all off the well-named son of Street Sense will no doubt be part of the early pace scenario after breaking from post position nine.
Hronis Racing’s Pacific Classic winner Higher Power had a bad break and lost all chance in the Awesome Again, but with a clean break and a spot he likes up on the pace should fare better here. The handsome son of Medaglia d’Oro could give trainer John Sadler a second consecutive win in this race (he had Accelerate a year ago) and a first one in the Classic for jockey Flavien Prat.
Elate may be the only true 10-furlong horse, but is she good enough to beat the boys is the question. She’s taleed and consistent and hails from the barn of Bill Mott, who knows how to get one ready for a race like this. Jose Ortiz will be aboard again,
Math Wizard is coming off his upset in the Pennsylvania Derby, Seeking the Soul won the Stephen Foster in June to qualify for this race, Owendale has proved a formidable runner in smaller Derbies this year, Preakness winner War of Will seeks to get back on track, Yoshida hasn’t won in a while but seems to like California, Mongolian Groom is better than people thought he was going into the Awesome Again and proved it, Vino Rosso won the Big ‘Cap here so he likes the track and Code of Honor is a Travers winner flying ever so slightly under the radar.
The field for the Classic, with riders and odds, is:q
1. Math Wizard, Ricardo Santana Jr., 30-1
2. Seeking the Soul, Brian Hernandez Jr., 20-1
3. Owendale, Javier Castellano, 15-1
4. War of Will, Tyler Gaffalione, 20-1
5. Yoshida, Mike Smith, 8-1
6. Elate, Jose Ortiz, 6-1
7. Higher Power, Flavien Prat, 6-1
8. McKinzie, Joel Rosario, 3-1
9. Mongolian Groom, Abel Cedillo, 12-1
10. Vino Rosso, Irad Ortiz Jr., 4-1
11. Code of Honor, John Velazquez, 4-1